Pre-Service Teachers’ Perceptions Of Teaching STSE-Based High School Physics: Implications For Post-Secondary Studies

  • Katarin MacLeod St. Francis Xavier University


Science, Technology, Society and Environment (STSE) education has received attention in educational research, policy, and science curricula development, yet less advancement has been made in moving theory into practice. There are many examples of STSE-based teaching in science at the elementary and secondary levels, yet little has focused specifically on the area of physics education. This research examined pre-service physics teachers’ views
and perceptions, challenges and tensions which influenced their adoption of the required STSE educational expectations found within secondary school physics curriculum of Ontario, Canada, in the context of a pre-service physics education course. The researcher employed an interpretive case study design. The pre-service physics teachers’ evolution of perceptions and attitudes demonstrate growth in the areas of curricula understanding and implementation issues, potential student concerns, and general fit of the subject within the context of a student’s learning journey. This study contributes to our understanding of the challenges faced when teaching physics through an STSE lens, provides implications for teacher education and physics education at the undergraduate level.


van Aalst, J. (2000). An introduction to physics education research. Canadian Journal of Physics, 78(1), 57-71.
Aikenhead, G. S. (1994). What is STS teaching? In J. A. Solomon & G. Aikenhead (Eds.), STS education: International perspectives on reform (pp. 47-59). New York: Teachers College Press.
Aikenhead, G. S. (2003). Chemistry and physics instruction: Integration, ideologies, and choices. Chemical Education: Research and Practices, 4(2), 115-130.
Aikenhead, G. S. (2006). Science education for everyday life: Evidence-based practice. New York: Teachers College Press
Aikenhead, G. S. (2005). Research into STS Science Education. Education Quimica, 16, 384- 397.
Akarsu, B. (2010). Science education research vs. physics education research: A structural comparison. European Journal of Physics Education, 1, 13-19.
Akarsu, B. & Kaya, H. (2012). Redesigning effective methods courses: Teaching pre-service teachers how to teach. Electronic Journal of Science Education 16(1), 1-16.
Alsop, S., Bencze, L., Pedretti, E. (Ed.). (2005). Analysing exemplary science teaching (1st ed.). New York: Open University Press.
Beichner, R. J. (2009). An Introduction to Physics Education Research. Getting Started in PER, edited by C. Henderson and K.A. Harper (American Association of Physics Teachers, College Park, MD, 2009) Reviews in PER Vol. 2, .
Bencze, L., & Hodson, D. (1999). Changing practice by changing practice: towards more authentic science and science curriculum development. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 36(5), 521-539.
Bennett, J., Lubben, F. & Hogarth, S. (2007). Bringing science to life: A synthesis of the research evidence on the effects of context-based and STS approaches to science teaching. Science Education, 91, 347-370.
Bloom, J. W. (2006). Creating a community of young scientists (2nd ed.). New York: Trifolium Books.
Bybee, R. W. (1993). Reforming science education. New York: Teachers College Press.
Charmaz, K. (2006). Constructing grounded theory: A practical guide through qualitative analysis. Los Angeles: Sage Publications.
CMEC. (1997). Common framework of science learning outcomes: Pan-Canadian protocol for collaboration on school curriculum. Retrieved from
Cobern, W. W. (2000). The nature of science and the role of knowledge and belief. Science & Education, 9, 219-246.
DeBoer, G. E. (1991). A history of ideas in science education: implications for practice. New York: Teachers College Press.
Denzin, N., & Lincoln, Y. (2005). Introduction: The discipline and practice of qualitative research. In The sage handbook of qualitative research, 3rd Ed. (pp. 1-33). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Donovan-White, C. (2006). Teaching the nature of science. ACASEJAEESA, 1(7), 24.
Etkina, E. (2005). Physics teacher preparation: Dreams and reality. Journal of Physics Teacher Education On-line, 3(2), 3 - 9.
Forbes, C. T., & Davis, E. A. (2008). Exploring preservice elementary teachers’ critique and adaption of science curriculum materials in respect to socioscientific issues. Science and Education, 17(8-9), 829-854.
Glaser, B. (1956). The Constant comparative method of qualitative analysis. Social Problems, 12(4), 436-445.
Harrison, D. (2010). An introduction to physics education research. Retrieved from:
Hart, C. (2001). Examining relations of power in a process of curriculum change: The case of VCE physics. Research in Science Education, 31, 525-551.
Hodson, D. (1993a). In search of a rationale for multicultural science education. Science Education, 77(6), 685-711.
Hodson, D. (1993b). Re-thinking old ways: Towards a more critical approach to practical work in school science. Studies in Science Education, 22, 85-142.
Hodson, D. (1998). Teaching and learning science: Towards a personalized approach. Philadelphia: Open University Press.
Hodson, D. (2000). Becoming more critical about practical work. OISE Papers in STSE Education, 1, 131-143.
Knight, R. (2004). Five easy lessons: Strategies for successful Physics teaching (1st ed.). Toronto: Addison Wesley.
Kortland, J. (2005). Physics in personal, social and scientific contexts: A retrospective view on the Dutch physics curriculum development project PLON. In P. Nentwig & D. Waddington (Eds.), Making it relevant: Context based learning of science (pp. 67-89). Munster, Germany: Waxmann.
Lederman, N., & Abd-El-Khalick, F. (1998). Avoiding de-natured science: Activities that promote understandings of the nature of science. In W. F. McComas (Ed.), The nature of science in science education (pp. 83-126). Dordrecht, Netherlands: Kluwer Academic.
Lederman, N. G., & Lederman, J. S. (2004). Revisioning instruction to teach nature of science. [Electronic version]. The Science Teacher, 39. Retrieved from
Leonard, W. J., Dufresne, R. J., & Mestre, J. P. (1996). Using qualitative problem-solving strategies to highlight the role of conceptual knowledge in solving problems. American Journal of Physics, 62(12), 1495-1503.
Maloney, D. P. (1994). Research on problem solving: Physics. In D. L. Gabel (Ed.), Handbook of research on science teaching and learning (pp. 598). New York: Macmillan.
Matthews, M. R. (1998). In defense of modest goals when teaching about the nature of science. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 35(2), 161-174.
MacLeod, K. A. (2012). Integrating Science, Technology, Society and Environment (STSE) into physics teacher education: Pre-service teachers' perceptions and challenges. PhD Dissertation. University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.
MacLeod, K. A. (2013) Physics Education and STSE: Perspectives From the Literature. European Journal of Physics Education, 4(4), 1-12.
McDermott, L. C. (1991). Millikan Lecture 1990: What we teach and what is learned—closing the gap. American Journal of Physics, 69(11), 301-315.
McDermott, L. C. (1998). Research in physics education. APS News, 7(1), 8.
McDermott, L. C., & Redish, E. F. (1999). Resource Letter: PER-1: Physics education research. American Journal of Physics, 67(9), 755-767.
McDermott, L. C. (2001). Oersted Medal Lecture 2001: Physics education research—the key to student learning. American Journal of Physics, 69(11), 1127-1137.
McDermott, L. C. (2006). Preparing K-12 teachers in physics: Insights from history, experience, and research. American Journal of Physics, 74(9), 748-762.
McFadden, C. P. (1980). Barriers to science education improvement in Canada: a case in point. In C. P. McFadden (Ed.), Trends in science education (pp. 304). Halifax, NS: Atlantic Institute of Education.
Merriam, S. (1988). Case study research in education: A qualitative approach. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Nashon, S., Nielsen, W., & Petrina, S. (2008). Whatever happened to STS? Pre-service physics teachers and the history of quantum mechanics. Science and Education, 17, 387-401.
Novodvorsky, I. (2006). Shifts in beliefs and thinking of beginning physics teacher. Journal of Physics Teacher Education On-line, 3(3), 11-17.
Pedretti, E. (2005). STSE education: Principles and practices. In S. Alsop, L. Bencze & E. Pedretti (Eds.), Analysing exemplary science teaching: Theoretical lenses and a spectrum of possibilities for practice (pp. 116-126). London: Open University Press.
Pedretti, E. & Hodson, D. (1995). From rhetoric to action: Implementing STS education through action research. Journal of Research In Science Teaching, 2(5), 463-485.
Pedretti, E. & Little, C. (2008). From engagement to empowerment. Toronto: Pearson Education Canada.
Pedretti, E., Bencze, L., Hewitt, J., Romkey, L. & Jivraj, A. (2008). Promoting issued-based STSE perspectives in science teacher education: Problems of identity and ideology. Science and Education, 17(8-9), 941-960.
Pedretti, E. & Nazir, J. (2011). Currents in STSE education: Mapping a complex field, 40 years on. Science Education. 95, 601-626. doi: 10.1002/sce.20435.
Ratcliffe, M. (1997). Pupil decision-making about socioscientific issues within the science curriculum. International Journal of Science Education, 19(2), 167-182.
Redish, E. F. (2003). Teaching physics with physics suite. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. Roth, W. M., & Calabrese-Barton, A. (2004). Dangerous teaching. In W. M. Roth & A/ Calabrese-Barton (Eds.), Rethinking scientific literacy (pp. 181-214). New York: Routledge Falmer.
Rubba, P. (1991). Integrating STS into school science and teacher education: Beyond awareness. Theory Into Practice, 30(4), 303-308.
Sadler, T., Amirshokoohi, A., Kazempour, M, & Allspaw, K. (2006). Socioscience and ethics in science classrooms: Teacher perspectives and strategies. Journal of Research In Science Teaching, 43(4), 353-376.
Schwartz, R. S., & Lederman, N. G. (2002). "It’s the nature of the beast": The influence of knowledge and intentions on learning and teaching nature of science. Journal of Research In Science Teaching, 39, 205-236.
Sherman, A., & MacDonald, L. (2007). Pre-service teachers’ experiences with a science education module. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 18, 525-541.
STAO. (2000). Position paper: The nature of science. Toronto.
Tobin, K., Tippins, D.J., & Gallard, A. J. (1994). Research on instructional strategies for teaching science. In D. L. Gabel (Ed.), Handbook of research on science teaching and learning. New York: National Science Teachers Association. Chapter 2.
Wenning, C. J. (2007). A physics teacher candidate knowledge base. Journal of Physics Teacher Education On-line, 4(3), 13-16.
Wieman, C., & Perkins, K. (2005, November). Transforming physics education. Physics Today, 36-41.
Yoon, S., Pedretti, E., Bencze, L., Hewitt, J., Perris, K., & van Oostveen, R. (2006). Exploring the use of cases and case methods in influencing elementary preservice science teachers’ self-efficacy beliefs. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 17, 15-35.
How to Cite
MACLEOD, Katarin. Pre-Service Teachers’ Perceptions Of Teaching STSE-Based High School Physics: Implications For Post-Secondary Studies. European Journal of Physics Education, [S.l.], v. 5, n. 1, p. 1-15, feb. 2017. ISSN 1309-7202. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 17 sep. 2019. doi: